Analyzed by Simon Tse & Kelly Wang
Syracuse’s Destiny USA was designed in order to drive local and international visitors to the struggling city to not only provide revenue to the city, but to promote tourism throughout Central New York. Destiny USA has plans to expand the mall further through the expansion of the inner harbor area close by. There are plans for Destiny USA to develop a 1,342-room hotel as well as expand retail along the harbor. The hope is for the newly developed center would provide a significant number of jobs in the Syracuse area. As of now, the only hotel plans within the Inner Harbor is a new Aloft that will contain 130 rooms and a movement has begun in the area to clear out the brush and demolish the vacant buildings on the land.
Under the new addition of now Destiny USA, Onondaga County Legislature asked for property tax exemption to allow for the expansion of the newly added sectors. The IDA exempted property tax, which allowed Destiny USA the opportunity for construction without the accumulation of debt before stores open. The elimination of property taxes until the completion of the new addition helped Destiny USA plan accordingly and not pressure construction that would lead them to be LEED Gold Certified. However, with future expectations of leading to be the second most visited mall, developers are ranging to expand in a different direction. Before the newly built addition previous plans and proposals of a Hotel complex was in the works. The plan for the hotel was to bring more tourists into one main location filled with, shopping, restaurants and entertainment. Overall with the intent to increase the amount of visitors and revenue since it’s a center point within Central New York and Canada.
Although there is a high demand to continue to expand and develop Destiny USA the impact for the city of Syracuse as a whole has moved in a different direction. There has been a main focus to turn Destiny USA as the main attraction of Syracuse. However, its focus tends to put aside the affects on the city and its need. Although the mall has much collaboration such as revenue towards other developing programs and waste product initiative, there is no direct improvement for the city. The overall impact of this design and development is to bring a new direction to the city as the developer and a main tourist attraction.
As seemingly great as these plans may seem, however, the question of how effective this would actually be must be asked. The city of Syracuse and the Destiny USA proponents are putting in a lot of work into “improving the city” by developing a highly commercialized area of Syracuse to attract outside visitors to the city. But what good would actually come from this? If the Inner Harbor and Destiny USA is the one sector of the city that is attracting tourists, then what will happen to the other, less developed areas of the city? Looking into the existing downtown of Syracuse, Armory Square has similarly been developed and planned to spur revenue and make the city better than it was before. However, there is a clear disconnect between Armory Square and the rest of the downtown areas; the class of people are different, the prices at stores and restaurants are different, etc.
At the current rate of development, the Inner Harbor/ Destiny USA will segregate the city further. How much good will a newly developed area of the city have if it is solely geared toward the entertainment of upper-middle class visitors?
A couple sentences and some images of sexy architecture is all the explanation prospective and new students get about the From the Ground Up project. And this project is marketed extensively as it is probably the most costly intervention the School of Architecture at SU has participated in. I say “participated in” instead of “completely responsible for” because after talking to the Director of Upstate, Mark Norman, Becky and I learned how limited a role the School of Architecture actually played in the project. Mark was put in as director not long after From the Ground Up was completed.
Mark defends From the Ground up because it accomplished goals like building three new houses and the educating of the city of implementing sustainable energy systems in them, but it failed at others like the goal of affordability ($80,000 each). Each house in the end cost from $250,000-$350,000. These prices were subsidized down to $90,000 each, but this was still way to expensive for anyone to purchase from the neighborhood so people from outside the neighborhood bought them instead. Not only that but no bank would not even give loans on the houses because they appraised much lower then the very subsidized prize because of their location. A local non profit organization, Home Headquarters who donated the three vacant lots, now begrudgingly hold the mortgages.
Was the education purposes worth spending $1 million on houses that are too expensive to be reproduced again? You have to ask yourself how you wold raise $1 million dollars to build more but lower cost houses that aren’t as sexy? That would be too boring to raise funds. And the explanation to prospective students that the houses aren’t as awesome looking but we were able to build more of them instead of just a sexy picture? well, that would just take too long.
What is redhouse?
Redhouse is a non-profit multi-arts organization founded in 2004 (when it was opened to the public). Originally it began when there was a group of local artists looking for a home, in 2001. It is a facility that provides art education and cultural activities to the CNY region. The three-story building was old and abandoned but the group of artists still saw potential and character despite the fact that it required some major renovations. A campaign was organized in order to raise funds to renovate and transform the building from a previously known boarding house into a home for the arts.
As a part of the production, redhouse facilitates the public with a place to hold public, private special and corporate events.
The NYSCA (New York State Council on the Arts) typically assists any institution that supports artistic excellence and creative freedom in the New York region. They go about assisting such institutions through its grant making activity. Their main aim is to achieve cultural development in the State of New York.
Red House Arts Center:
-non-profit multi-arts organization founded in 2004
-provides art education to the region
-provides cultural activities
-monthly radio shows
-art education (5 programs)
-independent film series
-special events (private party spaces for rent)
– as an organization that is supposed to be community based and artist driven they are geared towards a certain subset of people
– pricey membership and event tickets
– maybe geared towards the professional community rather than the poorer communities (service/labor industry)
– even youth classes (redED) seem to be pricey for the average person
– seems to be geared at middle to upper class communities
– considered part of the connective corridor bus route but doesn’t really partake in being a part of the community
– seem to be more interested in the theatrical aspect than the singer/songwriter aspect (flaws in residency)
– Why are there no hours listed on the website?
– If they wanted to be seen as a community organization they should list hours and also be more inviting to the public?
– Why is there little to no publicity? Limited advertising seen.
– With limited amounts of advertising how do people find out about them in order to donate? (they claim to be dependent upon the donations of individuals).
– Is there another source of income?